In what seems like a generation ago — before the internet — catalog orders came in one of two ways: via the mail or phone. Source code capture rates of 85 percent were the norm and it was easy to read the results from each mailing list. Then along came the internet and measuring catalog response rates became complicated. The percentage of online orders continues to grow, making the attribution of orders very complicated. Consumers receive catalogs, emails, online ads and many more advertisements. Knowing which marketing vehicle should get credit for an order is a challenge.
A matchback is the process of matching the mail file from a catalog against the orders received during the life of that catalog. If you purchased from a catalog you were mailed, all orders you placed during the life of that catalog are credited to that mail piece.
Testing has shown that a certain segment of consumers will order whether they receive a catalog or not. And a certain segment of housefile buyers are responding to both online ads and emails. A solution to this overallocation is to set up a mail/no-mail test panel to measure the sales that a housefile segment generates if it's not mailed a catalog vs. the same segment’s sales when it is mailed a catalog.
Sales from rented lists that have never ordered from your catalog are typically under-reported because matching the names mailed against orders received omits catalogs that were passed along and used by consumers at different addresses. Pass-along orders could easily top 20 percent of reported sales from a prospecting mailing list.
The default methodology for matchback allocation has been to attribute catalog orders to the last catalog mailed. But marketers are also using multiple campaign order curves to allocate orders between campaigns when several catalogs overlap. The best example for order curve allocation is when a retailer mails two or three holiday catalogs in November and knows it shouldn't allocate all December sales to the last catalog mailed.